Mosquito numbers expected to stay low

Fingers crossed that Red Deerians will continue to be able to enjoy the outdoors without many mosquitoes.

Fingers crossed that Red Deerians will continue to be able to enjoy the outdoors without many mosquitoes.

So far fewer mosquitoes have been feasting on residents thanks to a dry spring.

“We’re likely to see some increases in the mosquito population through the next few weeks, but it really isn’t anticipated to be a significant year for mosquitoes unless Mother Nature has a change of plans coming up,” said Trevor Poth, Red Deer Parks Department superintendent, on Thursday.

He said after such a dry spring and the temperate rains that have followed, there’s been little standing water to allow larvae to hatch. Larvae need to hatch in a water body that’s going to dry out so they can be released from it.

“(Rain) is being absorbed into the ground really, really quickly.”

He said since rain is in the forecast for the next few days things will change, but it really requires the ground to get quite saturated before there is significant pooling across the city.

So far the city has treated ponds and any pockets of standing water twice, once in early May and once in mid-June.

The city uses a microbial pesticide called bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) on ponds where mosquito larvae will hatch. It is used to treat the aquatic larval stage of the mosquito life cycle before it emerges as an adult.

Bti is a non-chemical product that only kills mosquitoes. It does not affect fishing waters, other aquatic organisms or birds.

He said dragonfly populations are also starting to come out to help control mosquitoes.

“The dragonfly eats a ton of mosquitoes so the more we can support their populations through some of our wetland preservation and some of our lowland preservation, the more of them we see out there and the far less mosquitoes we have to deal with.”

But Poth still advises people to protect themselves against mosquitoes and so does Alberta Health Services.

AHS says West Nile virus infection still poses a hazard. From 2003 to 2015, Alberta had 680 cases of West Nile virus, many acquired here in the province.

There are simple ways people can protect themselves against bites:

l Wear a long-sleeved, light-coloured shirt, pants, and a hat.

l Use insect repellent with DEET.

l Consider staying indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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